Jan 10, 2022: At least 19 people, including nine children, have been killed and dozens injured in an apartment building fire in New York City’s deadliest fire in three decades.
Trapped residents smashed windows for air and wet towels under the doors as smoke billowed from the ground floor apartment where the fire started. Survivors reportedly fled through the dark corridors in panic, barely able to breathe.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has confirmed that a fire at the Twin Parks apartment building in the Bronx area of the city at 11 a.m. Sunday (16:00 GMT) killed 19 people. The 19-story tower provided affordable housing and housed a large community of Gambians.
Stephen Ringel, the mayor’s senior adviser, said the children who died were 16 years of age or younger. “This is a terrible, horrible, painful moment for New York City,” Adams told reporters. “The numbers are terrible.” More than five dozen people were injured and 13 were hospitalized in critical condition. The fire commissioner said most of the victims had inhaled heavy smoke.
The fire started with a portable electric heater in the bedroom of one of the apartments, officials said. Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the city’s fire department, told reporters that the smoke had spread to every floor of the building, probably because the door to the apartment had been left open. “Members found victims on each floor of the stairs and were taking them out with cardiac and respiratory arrest,” Nigro said.
Adams said firefighters continued rescue operations after the air supply was cut off. “Their oxygen tanks were empty and they were still pushing through the smoke.”
The blaze is the second such fire in a public housing complex in the United States in a week, and the safety standards for such buildings appear to be in question. Nigro said there was no space in the building to avoid an external fire, and residents had to climb the inner stairs. “I don’t think some of them survived because of the volume of smoke,” he said.
About 200 firefighters helped put out the blaze, and some ran out of oxygen. Negro said he believes the building has 120 apartments. “Right now there are a lot of people who need a place to live,” he said.
Nigro compared the severity of the fire to a 1990 fire at the Happyland Social Club where a man set the building on fire after an argument with his ex-girlfriend and was thrown out, killing 87 people.
Aside from the 9/11 attacks, Sunday was the deadliest fire in the city since the Happland fire.
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